March 8 2011

12:00 BSRB 154

Ecolunch: Oscar Godoy Del Olmo
Centro de Ciencias Medioambientales, Madrid

The Role of Phenotypic Plasticity for Plant Invasion


Plastic responses to spatial and temporal environmental variation strongly influence species distribution, with widespread species expected to have high phenotypic plasticity. Under this framework, phenotypic plasticity has been linked to plant invasiveness because presumably high plasticity facilitates colonization and rapid spreading over large and environmentally heterogeneous new areas. Here, I present a series of studies where I tested the importance of plasticity for invasiveness. By combining field data with common garden experiments I evaluated whether invasive species show higher plasticity compared to native/non-invasive species, whether plasticity pre-adapt an exotic species to invade a novel heterogeneous environment, or whether evolution of plasticity in an exotic species promotes invasiveness. My major conclusion is that invasive species do not show higher levels of plasticity compared to native/non-invasive species. However, the role of phenotypic plasticity and the debate question of why plasticity is not always maximal can be better understood when plasticity is related to other important features for plant performance such as trait mean values or phenotypic integration. Besides, plasticity does not always pre-adapt exotic species to invade heterogeneous habitats and its adaptive value depends of the main abiotic factor driving habitat filtering. Finally, plasticity should be better viewed as a dynamic rather than a conservative trait because evolution of plasticity can occur rapidly by genetic assimilation or Baldwin effect processes.















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































this is idtest: